The iconic Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, MI hosts one more edition of Monday Night Raw before the curtain falls on the storied building, as it is set to meet the wrecking ball later in 2017. On this night, WWE continues its Road to Wrestlemania looking to set up a contender for Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson’s Raw Tag Team Championship. Will it be Enzo and Big Cass, or will the past champions Sheamus and Cesaro emerge with the shot to contend for their titles? Also, we watched Roman Reigns take a chokeslam from Undertaker at the end of last week’s show. Will the Big Dog be looking for revenge on the Deadman, or are they going to wait and clash at Wrestlemania in Orlando? Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens brawled last week – will the former best friends continue to battle tonight as they build to a clash at Wrestlemania in just a couple weeks?
Show Open, Live from Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, MI:
We got a recap of Goldberg winning the Universal Championship then his follow-up angle where Lesnar F-5’d him last week on Raw. Cole, Graves, and Saxton on the call.
Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar made their way to the ring. Heyman dropped to his knees and acted like he was in awe of Lesnar hitting “the seemingly indestructible Goldberg” with an F-5. Heyman laughed and said he did. He said the end result was “down goes Goldberg.” He added that not only can he see the future, but the vision has been bestowed upon all fans thanks to Lesnar.
Heyman said the future happens at Wrestlemania, and Lesnar will make the announcers say “down goes Goldberg.” The fans chanted for Goldberg, and Heyman paused. He said the interview was being cut short and “Ladies and Gentlemen, Goldberg…is not here this evening.” That drew boos. Heyman said his client is and this was his way of saying nicely to shut the hell up if you chant Goldberg.
Heyman said the ressurrection of Goldberg will be put down at Wrestlemania and his vision of the future validated. Heyman said F-5 equals “Lesnar goes up, down goes Goldberg.” Lesnar’s music hit. Cole noted what one F-5 can do for a man’s confidence.
Bill Says: A good opening promo summed up well by Cole at commentary. Surprisingly, they didn’t push the Lesnar appearance, and even more so that they told viewers that Goldberg would not be there.
Mick Foley was standing around backstage when Steph McMahon approached him. She said Heyman is creepy, to which Foley laughed. She said she was happy she could cut the tension and make him laugh. She said one of the first things she learned from her father was that things said in the heat of the moment can’t be taken personally.
She said she was willing to teach Foley if he was willing to learn. Foley agreed, and she told him to scan the roster and determine the one person he would fire. She said it was about trimming fat and sending a message about strong leadership. Foley looked sad, but told her she could count on him.
Bill Says: Does Foley fire himself here for an angle to get him off TV for hip surgery? This is something that has been talked about in reliable circles that Foley was in need of this, so perhaps that’s set up for him. But, why not fire Stephanie, just for fun?
Match #1 – Sasha Banks (w/Bayley) vs. Dana Brooke (w/Charlotte);
Winner: Sasha Banks
The Reax: Sasha got a quick roll up win, and Graves said she pulled the tights for another dishonest win. Bayley and Sasha were friendly, but Cole asked if they would be at Wrestlemania.
Charlotte scolded Dana after the match, saying she doesn’t deserve to be with her. She said she was going to get rid of Brooke. “Actually, I’m going to teach you…” Dana punched her, then roughed her up at ringside then threw her in. Charlotte fled but Dana grabbed her hair. Charlotte broke free and threw a fit while there were some “Dana” chants in the crowd.
Bill Says: Dana wasn’t serving the act well, and the Raw babyface women are very, very thin. I suspect we’ll be getting a Sasha heel turn soon too. So, they had to do something and you may as well try with Brooke, who hasn’t been treated well so far and might just work out. Surprisingly, it did get some love from the fans, even though Dana seems like a more natural heel.
Cole set up a video package to highlight the Warrior Award and winner Eric LeGrand, a former football player from Rutgers University who is paralyzed from the neck down. Fans applauded the video package.
Saxton hyped Jericho and Zayn vs. Owens and Samoa Joe later on, and Graves said Roman Reigns would address being chokeslammed by Undertaker.
Cruiserweights up next, and as entrances happened Graves noted Austin Aries vs. TJ Perkins vs. Akira Tozawa vs. Brian Kendrick vs. Tony Nese for a five-way elimination match to earn a title shot at Wrestlemania for the main event of 205 Live.
Match #2 – Brian Kendrick and Tony Nese vs. Akira Tozawa and TJ Perkins;
Winner: Kendrick and Nese
The Reax: Nese jumped Tozawa to start and Kendrick taunted Tozawa but got dumped to ringside. Tozawa followed with a dive and Nese ate a huracanrana. The heels isolated Tozawa. Late in the match, Kendrick got involved from the apron and took a kick, but Nese ran Perkins into Tozawa and got a roll-up win.
I’m digging the five-way match and am excited for that. The other time they did this it was an exciting match and this one should be better given the stakes on the line with Wrestlemania and all. Nese feels like the odd man out here, given he loses so much, but I figure that’s why he picked up the pinfall in this match.
Saxton hyped the tag team contender’s match.
Backstage, Charly talked to Gallows and Anderson. Anderson said he’s tired of everyone talking about contenders instead of them. Gallows called them all nerds, and told her to talk about them somewhere else.
Kevin Owens made his way to the ring for the tag match. He bragged about taking the spotlight a month ago, and putting it right back where it belongs. They recapped the Festival of Friendship and Owens attacking Jericho. He bragged about outsmarting Jericho, and now Jericho wants revenge.
Owens said Jericho got to him at FastLane, and said Goldberg didn’t beat him there but Jericho did. Owens said he would take the US Championship from Jericho, much like Jericho took his title from him. “The only thing left of Y2J will be the Tears of Jericho…cry it out, man.” Owens said who needs best friends when you have a destroyer. Samoa Joe came to the ring, then the faces came to the ring.
Match #3 – Samoa Joe and Kevin Owens vs. Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens;
Winner: Jericho and Zayn
The Reax: Joe hit an early enzugiri and tagged Owens, who taunted Jericho with his own pose while covering Zayn with a foot. Owens knocked Jericho off the apron then tagged to Joe. Zayn hit a flip dive on both heels then sold a knee injury.
Late, Owens clipped Zayn’s leg and the heels put the boots to him. The official ended up disqualifying the heels, giving the win to Jericho and Zayn. Afterward, Jericho tried for the Walls on Owens but Joe cut him off with a boot. Joe held Jericho while Owens threw strikes. Officials tried to stop Owens, who ended the beatdown with a powerbomb.
A good angle in that Jericho didn’t get his revenge and got more heat on the heels. I’ll bet we’ll see more of this going forward, with maybe Jericho getting some comeuppance on the go-home show or something in order to not give away too much. I just wish they’d have put more importance on the US Championship, as right now it feels like Owens wants it solely because he lost his title to Goldberg.
Stephanie offered Foley help in finding someone to fire. Mick said he would decide by the end of the night. She suggested Sami Zayn, then Nia Jax barged in. She made her case for being included in the women’s title match at Wrestlemania. Foley spoke, like he was going to shoot it down, but Stephanie cut him off and said she deserves to be in the conversation and booked her against Bayley.
Saxton hyped Roman Reigns responding to Undertaker’s chokeslam.
Backstage, Jinder Mahal told Foley that Rusev was holding him back, and he demanded an opponent. Foley stopped him and told him he would face Roman Reigns.
New Day did a “New Day Talks” segment. They had a Jetson’s DVD box in front of them, and welcomed Big Show as their guest. They pointed out he was in the film and said Big Show could be the first ever two time winner of the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royale.
Show hyped the DVD and Titus O’Neil interrupted him. He said someone’s job is on the line and he didn’t care about the talk show. Titus asked Show why the Titus brand isn’t the star of the movie. Show said he had no control. Titus shoved him and told him to get control, and Show got pissed. New Day wrapped things up.
Bill Says: Welp, there’s your sure answer on Show vs. Shaq. Rumors are that Shaq is very out of shape, so the match got scrubbed. It would have been nice to see Show get a spotlight especially with how he’s gotten into shape, but they can do that in the Battle Royale, which I will expect to see Braun Strowman enter and have a showdown moment with him.
Saxton hyped the tag team contendership match, up next.
Enzo and Cass made their entrance and did their typical pre-match mic work. Enzo said they had a gift for Cesaro, who spilled his coffee. They showed a “cuppa haters” coffee mug. Enzo said there are only two types of men in this world, and Cesaro and Sheamus are neither of them. Cass called themselves bracket busters and they are the Cinderella story.
Match #4 – Enzo and Big Cass vs. Sheamus and Cesaro; Raw Tag Team Championship #1 Contender’s Match;
Winner: Apparent No Contest
The Reax: Cesaro hit an immediate drop kick at the bell, but Cass came right back with a side slam. Gallows and Anderson watched on from a monitor backstage. Cass slammed Enzo on Sheamus for a cover that Cesaro broke up. Sheamus and Cesaro isolated Enzo, who eventually broke out with an enzugiri to tag to Cass. Late, Cass hit a big boot on Sheamus that sent him to the floor, but Gallows and Anderson came out and attacked both teams to throw the match out.
Interesting. Looks like we’re heading for a triple threat at Wrestlemania. A lot of multi-man matches going on at that show, it seems. The match didn’t overstay its welcome, at least. One good thing is that it seemed like Gallows and Anderson got boos – as they should be – for interfering.
Cole fed it to a video package recapping Braun Strowman calling out Roman Reigns, only to have Undertaker show up. They showed Strowman leaving rather then Reigns coming to confront Undertaker. They showed Reigns backstage and noted he was going to be in action.
Foley confronted Anderson and Gallows about the match earlier, and then made a triple threat match for Wrestlemania against both Sheamus and Cesaro and Enzo and Big Cass.
Match #5 – Roman Reigns vs. Jinder Mahal;
Winner: Roman Reigns
The Reax: Reigns got his normal reaction and Jinder didn’t get a televised entrance. The commentary team hyped Reigns vs. Undertaker at Wrestlemania. Roman threw clotheslines until Undertaker’s gong hit. He paused and looked to the back, which let Jinder hit a high knee. Jinder slammed Reigns, but Reigns came right back with the Superman Punch to win.
After, Reigns got the mic and said that the replay showed he isn’t messing around. He called out Undertaker and told him to come out like a man. Shawn Michaels’ music hit and he made his way to the ring to a huge ovation. He came to the ring in street clothes. Reigns said it was cool to see Michaels, then waited out an HBK chant. Reigns said it goes without saying that Detroit loves him, but he didn’t call out HBK – he called out Undertaker.
Michaels said he saw what happened last week and what happened when the gong went off. “You are distracted and unfocused. This far out of Wrestlemania and he has already set up shop in that head of yours. Come Wrestlemania, he’s going to eat you alive.”
Reigns said it’s not happening and got booed. Reigns said people ask him what it’s going to be like for him to face Undertaker. “Maybe the Undertaker should be thinking what it’s going to be like to be in the ring with me,” he said.
Michaels said he knows what it’s like to walk around with a chip on your shoulder, as well as the weight and pressure of the company. He said he knows what it’s like to have everyone secretly hope you fail. Michaels said he wasn’t there to be confrontational but he was on Roman’s side. He got booed for that.
Reigns said he appreciated the advice, “but with all due respect, Undertaker retired you.” Reigns said he would be the guy to retire Undertaker, dropped the mic and left. Michaels watched as Reigns’ music played. Reigns got to the ramp and turned back. Braun Strowman ran out and sent Reigns flying between the ramp and barrier. Strowman told Michaels if he wanted to do that to him, he would. The fans chanted “Thank you Strowman.” Reigns got up and sat on the stage while officials checked on him. Fans chanted for Michaels.
Bill Says: Michaels was a nice surprise appearance, and a logical one given he has history with Undertaker. Some of Reigns’ mic work seemed heelish, but far from a full on turn of any sort of way. He really didn’t do anything more than being confident going into the match.
Backstage, Steph talked to Mick about the firing. He said he wasn’t taking it lightly, and was hoping to talk her out of it. She said he was thinking with his heart and not his head, and called it “for his personal and professional growth.” Foley said he didn’t like the idea of someone losing their job right before Wrestlemania. Steph told him he had an hour to make the decision, or she would make it for him and he might not like what she decides.
Bill Says: I’ve had to fire people – it’s not easy. That said, this is dragging out far too long (seems they’re holding it for the end of the show) and it’s a restless angle.
They ran highlights of Austin Aries and Neville from last week, then Aries defeating Tony Nese last week on 205 Live. Graves hyped Aries vs. Ariya Daivari up next.
Match #6 – Austin Aries vs. Ariya Daivari;
Winner: Austin Aries
The Reax: Cole hyped the five-way match on 205 Live. Neville watched on a monitor. Aries hit a shinbreaker to a suplex that Daivari landed awkwardly on. Aries hit his rolling elbow to win.
This was a showcase for Aries, which is fine and needs to happen. Daivari landed awkwardly on his shoulder and side (at first it kinda looked like he landed on his head) but it seems like he’s okay. Neville watching on seems to foreshadow Aries vs. Neville, a match I really want to see but not foreshadowed that much.
The commentary team recapped the match then fed it to video of the Goldberg/Lesnar segment from last week. The commentary team hyped Bayley vs. Nia Jax for later.
We got an Emma teaser. I don’t care.
Match #7 – Big Show vs. Titus O’Neil;
Winner: Big Show
The Reax: Both men got entrances. Graves bragged about Titus’ mean streak. He got pinned in a short time after a chokeslam. Simple filler.
Saxton set up a video for Women’s History Month, featuring Billie Jean King
Backstage, Bayley talked to Sasha, saying that being hit by Nia Jax is like being hit by a truck. Sasha agreed and told her not to listen to the haters. Bayley said she didn’t know what she was talking about. Sasha said the haters who say she’s not championship worthy. The two shook hands.
I am betting that we’ll look back in a few weeks and see these moments with Sasha as the set up for her heel turn, or at least coincidences. Either way, I expect to see the Boss re-emerge at or just after Wrestlemania.
They hyped Wrestlemania being 20 days out with a video. The commentary team hyped the major matches and pimped a free WWE Network trial. They then recapped Joe and Owens vs. Jericho and Zayn earlier.
Jericho was shown icing his neck backstage when Mike Rome entered. Jericho announced that the real Kevin Owens would be his guest next week. Jericho said everyone would want to watch, and paused. Rome said “it.” Jericho called him Tom, and Mike sad Phillips is on Smackdown. Jericho asked if he knew what happened when he doesn’t even know his own name and put him on the List.
Bill Says: The live crowd popped for the List, but it feels odd to bring that back in a feud that seems to have such a serious tone to it. I guess the logic is that if Jericho keeps doing the things that fans liked during his heel run would help fans like him now.
Match #8 – Bayley vs. Nia Jax; Non-Title Match
Winner: Bayley by disqualification.
The Reax: Jax sent Bayley to the mat and she rolled out to ringside. Jax followed and threw a headbutt before throwing her back in. Bayley threw kicks. Jax dumped the steps on their side then stood on the apron. Jax continued to press the offense and Cole said it was about her not being in the Wrestlemania match.
Bayley got a brief comeback but got caught on a dive off the ropes. She tried for a guillotine but Jax shoved her off. Late, Jax locked in a bear hug and dropped her on the ropes. She continued to rough Bayley up in the corner and ignored the ten count, so the official disqualified her. She threw Bayley into the barricade afterward.
This wasn’t about Jax at all, but instead about how Stephanie is smarter than everyone. She made the match so that Jax would beat up the champion that she really doesn’t like. But, I do still sort of expect to see Steph put her in the title match at Mania.
Graves hyped the 205 Live main event. Saxton hyped Jericho interviewing “the real” Kevin Owens next week on the Highlight Reel. They recapped Strowman attacking Roman Reigns and announced that Strowman would face Reigns in Brooklyn next week on Raw.
Steph made her way out and recapped how she gave Foley the chance to fire someone. Foley came to the ring, and she noted that Foley looked nimble. She asked him who the fat she was going to cut off the bone by firing.
He said he couldn’t think of anyone who deserved it, but then about ten minutes ago, a name popped off the page. Foley thanked her for the assignment and said it would make him a better person, manager, and a more enjoyable show. She asked who it was, and Foley said it would be her.
The fans popped, and Steph said that it was not within his power to fire her. She wanted a name, and Foley got worked up and said she treats the talent poorly. He said they are human and she deserves to be fired. Foley said he was looking into the eyes of a liar and a bad person. “You need to do.” Steph asked what happened to his fortitude and Foley said he wouldn’t be silenced. He started to say something about Triple H, but Hunter’s music hit and he headed to the ring.
Hunter told him if he had something to say, to say it to his face. Foley said he would be happy to, and added that he thought Hunter hid in the shadows. Hunter said no one can find him, but he’s everywhere and asked if they really look for him. He said he’s running a business. He said he doesn’t want a lawsuit or he would rip of Foley’s “bad in need of a hip replacement leg” and beat him with it.
Foley asked if Hunter would do it, or have Samoa Joe do it. Hunter said he would have never brought Foley back. Hunter said he works so hard on the future that he doesn’t have to look at pathetic has-been’s like Foley. Hunter said Steph has a heart and is amused by Foley and likes him.
Hunter said Foley shouldn’t mistake Steph’s heart for her lack of being able to do what it takes. He talked over CM Punk chants and said Foley was a step away from traveling the globe and talking about who he used to be. Foley said the talent like and respect him, and unlike them he doesn’t have to pretend to like Triple H.
Hunter mentioned family, noting Dewey (Foley’s son) works in the office. He said maybe Foley could give Dewey a ride to the unemployment office. Hunter asked if it was pulling on heart strings then told him to tuck his tail between his legs and “waddle up that ramp.” He told him Foley needed to have a life altering epiphany and suddenly love his job. Hunter said when Steph says jump, “you damn well jump, monkey.”
Triple H told Foley to get the hell out of the ring, and Foley started to leave. Steph told the fans that this should be a lesson for all of them, and Foley paused in the corner. She told the fans to thank their bosses for giving them an opportunity. Hunter noticed Foley in the corner and approached, and Foley turned around with Mr. Socko on his hand and locked in the Mandible Claw to a big pop. Steph hit Foley with a low blow.
Hunter went for the attack but Seth Rollins’ music hit. He hobbled out on a crutch to the bottom of the ramp. Hunter held out his arms and motioned for him to get in the ring. Rollins smiled, dropped the crutch. He pulled off his jacket to reveal a King Slayer t-shirt.
He hit the ring and Hunter and he brawled, exchanging punches. Rollins got the better of it, threw a kick, then drop kicked Hunter to ringside. The fans chanted for him as he played to the crowd. Hunter smiled and picked up the crutch. He got back in the ring with the crutch but Rollins was there to greet him with more strikes. Rollins ran the ropes but Hunter hit him with the crutch twice before locking in the Figure Four. Officials ran out to break it up and he did, then he hit the bad knee with a crutch again. Rollins sold the shot to close the show.
Bill Says: A lot of people are all sorts of fired up and love this angle. I hate parts of it. Too much “Authority” shading early on in it and that just left such a bad taste in my mouth that it immediately made me recoil and roll my eyes and think “ugh, not this shit again…” when I saw it playing out. That said, Rollins appearing and the King Slayer t-shirt and how he came off as a babyface seemed to go very well. He hasn’t come off well as a face and this worked.
Don’t let the end fool you – Rollins is healthy apparently and they wouldn’t have gone where they did if he wasn’t. They can frame it any way they like, but Rollins is going to be at Wrestlemania and possibly in a match with Hunter. That of course is yet to play out officially.
Why WWE didn’t hype much going into this show is beyond me though. Brock Lesnar appeared, the firing angle, and more could have been hyped but they didn’t go there. Fans may have just seen the contender’s match for the tag titles and just thought “yawn, pass…” to this show. So, we’ll see how the numbers do. I do know my Twitter feed was not very active for most of the broadcast.
Overall, a sleepy show up until the final angle for me. At least on the Raw side, they have some work to do to really get me excited for Wrestlemania. Drew Koscelek will have your Smackdown coverage and 205 Live coverage tomorrow, and more to say on a busy weekend in pro wrestling on Around the Ring tomorrow. See you on Wednesday for Ring Rap Audio.